At&T Brings Molecules Into Sharper Focus

How do you look at a molecule? It's not so hard with an electron microscope--but getting a good look with the optical scanning type can be devilishly difficult. The problem: The optical "signature" of the molecule is masked by the huge volume of surrounding haze. That haziness can be minimized by focusing the probe beam more tightly. But the focus of conventional lenses just isn't tight enough. Researchers at AT&T Bell Laboratories say they have solved that problem with a new kind of microscope that funnels light through an optical fiber that tapers to 100 billionths of a meter, or one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

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